Paulo Szot Returns to Feinstein’s/54 Below to Toast Sinatra and Jobim

By Logan Martell

On May 11, 2019, Paulo Szot concluded his latest show at Feinstein’s/54 Below as part of his international tour. The program celebrated the musical partnership of Frank Sinatra and Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, with Szot reflecting on their influence on his own artistry. Backed by pianist and Music Director Klaus Mieller, bassist Itaiguara Brandrao, and drummer David Sillman, Szot treated the evening’s audience to an intoxicating assortment of songs.

Having spent six months with Opera Australia as part of Hal Prince’s production of “Evita,” followed by his recent engagement in Teatro Dell’Opera Di Roma’s production of “The Merry Widow,” Paulo Szot gave New York a passionate greeting with the song “This Happy Madness,” followed by “One Note Samba.” Numbers such as “The Girl from Ipanema” saw Szot utilize a natural charm as he invited the audience to “ooh” and “ahh” over the titular beauty with him. “Love is not possible without drama,” claimed Szot with a cool smile. “We Brazilians, we need the drama.”

Taking things down to Broadway, Szot sang “Baubles, Bangles, and Beads” from Wright and Forrest’s 1953 musical “Kismet.” This catchy number soon erupted into a medley of songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific,” including “Bali Hai,” “I’m Gonna Wash That Man RIght Outa My Hair,” “Happy Talk,” and “Cockeyed Optimist.” After setting this powerful height, a softer shift came in the form of “Quiet Night of Quiet Stars,” with Brandrao switching from bass to guitar, gently accentuating Szot’s tender delivery of the lyrics.

Other highlights included Bart Howard’s “Fly Me to the Moon,” and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Lover Come Back to Me,” from “The New Moon.” Bearing no shortage of Bossa Nova flair, these final numbers showcased Szot’s electric showmanship. Bringing the evening to a close was the encore number “This Nearly Was Mine,” from “South Pacific,” as requested by the audience.

As Paulo Szot continues on his international tour, audiences in New York can next see him this Autumn in the role of Sharpless for the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019-20 season production of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.”